The five-month-long economic blockade in Manipur was lifted tonight after successful talks among the Centre, the state government and the Naga groups. The blockade was imposed by the United Naga Council on November 1 to protest against the creation of seven new districts by the erstwhile Okram Ibobi Singh-led Congress government in the state.
The blockade on two national highways NH-2 and NH-37 has led to steep rise in prices of essential commodities and severely affected the normal life in the state. It had become a major issue in the recently held assembly polls in the state. Appreciating the “first step of the newly formed government” led by the BJP, Manipur Governor Najma Heptulla said the lifting of the blockade “will usher in an era of peace and prosperity” in the northeastern state.
Chief Minster Biren Singh said the lifting of the blockade was “just the beginning” and that his government was trying to fulfil the promises Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made to the people of the state.
“Our effort is to make it (lifting of blockade) successful. It is just the beginning. The word was given by honorable Prime Minister Modiji to the people of Manipur during the election campaign. We are trying to fulfil his words,” he told news channel NDTV.
Earlier in the day, a joint statement, issued after the tripartite talks held at the Senapati district headquarters, stated that there would be “unconditional release of the arrested UNC leaders and all cases related to the economic blockade against the Naga tribe leaders and student leaders will be closed”. It had said that the blockade would be lifted from midnight today.
The statement was signed by Joint Secretary Satyendra Garg of the Union Home Ministry, Additional Chief Secretary (Home) J Suresh Babu and Commissioner (Works) Radhakumar Singh of the Manipur government and UNC general secretary S Milan and All Naga Students Association president Seth Shatsang.
The tripartite talks were held first on February 7 in Imphal for ending the blockade, but they had failed to make any headway as the UNC refused to allow the seven new districts to be carved out.
The stakeholders had earlier met in Delhi on February 4 and the Centre had expressed hope that the blockade would end soon. The joint statement said the next round of tripartite talks would be held within a month at political level.